Browsing all articles tagged with NFC East

Can the Skins Still Win the NFC East? Part I: They Still Have a Chance

In the words of Modest Mouse, are the ‘Skins dead or are they sleeping? On Sunday afternoon the Redskins lost to the Eagles 20-13 and lost a chance to be the lead driver in the race for NFC East Crown. Now, many wonder whether the Redskins performance was a foreshadowing of the remaining eleven games.  This is the first of a two part piece on whether our hometown heart breakers still have a chance to capture the NFC East for the first time since 1999.

Why the Redskins Can Still Win the NFC East

NFC Beast this year has been the NFC Weak.

The NFC East is not as strong as it typically is.  The Giants, Eagles and Cowboys have a combined 5-7 record against out of division opponents.  That batch includes San Francisco, Detroit, New England, St. Louis, Atlanta, Buffalo, Seattle, and Arizona.  The Redskins have some tough games ahead of them, but the apparent weaknesses of the NFC East teams seems to suggest that unless the Skins go on a stretch of 4 or 5 straight losses, they’ve got a chance to be in it in the end.

Skins Don’t Need a Hero at QB, They Just Can’t Have a Traitor.

The Redskins do not need their QB (Rex or Beck, or collectively Reck…hahaha notice there’s not a W between them?  Ha, just kidding. Kind of.) to win games as often as they need them to not lose them.  This is because up until this past game against Philadelphia, Washington has had a decent run game, averaging 4.0 yards a carry.  With the loss of starting LG Kory Lichtensteiger for the year and the possible loss of starting LT Trent Williams for a couple of weeks, the 4.0 days may be over.  Still, the fact remains, if the Redskins don’t give the Eagles four turnovers on Sunday, the Skins probably win that game.  Part of that is because  the D, which will address in my next point.

Spelling W-I-N with a capital D.

Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett’s Defense gives the Skins a chance to be in every game this season.  The Skins are allowing only 16.6 points per game through five games.  Heck, they held the Eagles remarkably well in the second half of Sunday’s game.  How many points would you expect the dynamic Eagles offense to put up if you knew that they would have four bonus shots due to interceptions?  As much as the Redskins were dominated throughout the game, they still had a chance to win it in the 4th Quarter.  If the Redskins defense continues its course, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (and Rex Grossman/John Beck) should be able to manage the modest achievement of two touchdowns and a field goal a game.

There are plenty of other reasons why the Skins can win the NFC East, one of them being blatantly obvious- they are 3-2 and only one game back from the Giants.

Your Thoughts

What do you think?  Do you think the Redskins can and will win the NFC East, or were the Redskins revealed in their game against the Eagles as a pretender?


Episode 46 – The Redskins 2010 Season Review Show

Matt and Mark are joined by Bryan for the Redskins Season Review show. We’d like to welcome Bryan as the new permanent addition and future host of the show! This episode we recap the Skins season, go over some Redskins news, review the NFL Playoffs, and give our Super Bowl picks! Remember to subscribe and rate us on iTunes!


  • Orakpo and Fletcher Pro Bowl Trips
  • Redskins will draft 10th overall in 2011
  • Redskins 2010 Season recap
  • Review Pre-Season Predictions
  • Season MVP
  • Season LVP
  • Redskins Rookie of the Year
  • Review Playoff Predictions
  • Conference Championship Recap
  • Super Bowl Picks!

NFC East 2010 Predictions – Mark’s Pick

The NFC East is more unpredictable than it has been in years. The Redskins have a new premier QB and a new HOF-caliber coach but will that be enough to improve the team right away? Can the Giants defense regain its form as one of the best defenses in the league? Will the Cowboys offensive line stay healthy enough for them to dominate? Will the youth movement in Philadelphia succeed this year or do the young ones need a little more seasoning?

I have a few theories on the answers to those questions and that has largely shaped my predictions. However, I can very easily seeing things going the opposite way as well. So without further ado, let us move on to the predictions.

1st Place – Dallas Cowboys 10-6

Once again the Cowboys are the most talented team in the division, at least on paper. They have a Pro Bowl QB, a trio of talented running backs, multiple passing weapons, and a fearsome pass rush. There are issues with an old and beat up offensive line, an unproven kicker, and a weak secondary. I think all of those will come back to bite the Cowboys…in the early playoff rounds. Their high-powered offense should win them enough regular season games to take the division.

2nd Place – New York Giants 8-8

This prediction is more based on the Giants tough schedule. They have games at Indy, Houston, Minnesota, and Green Bay. Those are teams they may be able to beat at home but look to be tough matchups on the road. The Giants D has gotten healthier and their performance should improve over last year, but do not expect them to regain their Super Bowl form. They no longer have the talent or the coaching. The Giants disappointing run game could also cost them a few games as it is hard to protect a lead if you cannot run.

3rd Place – Washington Redskins 7-9

The McNabb-Shanahan era has started. While it seems inevitable to be better than the Zorn-Campbell era it is not going to be an overnight success. The offensive line had a major overhaul this offseason and may take a while to gel. Rookie left tackle Trent Williams may end up being a star but right now is still a green LT that elite pass rushers can expose. The wide receiving core is full of good storylines but not much actual talent. Finally, the switch from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense will not happen overnight either. Starting safety Kareem Moore will miss a good chunk of the regular season, Albert Haynesworth does not appear to have bought into the program entirely still, and Andre Carter is having some trouble adjusting from 4-3 end to 3-4 outside linebacker. Next year, I can see this team being a favorite to win the division, this year there is just too much change going on at once.

4th Place – Philadelphia Eagles 4-12

The Eagles organization may think otherwise but I do not see a team jettisoning their starting QB and RB and making the playoffs the same year. McNabb and Westbrook may be a touch on the old side and injury-prone but they were also two of the best offensive players the Eagles have ever had. For all the promise LeSean McCoy and Kevin Kolb have, they have proven very little so far. Once opposing defenses get more tape on them they will find that big plays do not come as easy. And if either one of them gets injured there is no decent backup now.  The Eagles bolstered a top 15 defense through the draft but did not add any notable veterans. In a few years this should be a good team, but right now they are mostly raw potential. I see them losing a lot of games because of inexperience this year.

So those are my picks for this year. But before you start any flaming comments let me reiterate that I could be very wrong on nearly every team. The Cowboys offense could continue rolling and finish with more than 12 wins or the offensive line could fall apart early and they could struggle to make .500. The New York Giants could become a dominating defense again and take the division. The Redskins may actually win now, especially if Clinton Portis, Donovan McNabb, and Albert Haynesworth feel like they have to prove themselves every game. The Eagles young ones could come out like a house on fire and perform right away. Like I said the NFC East is more unpredictable than ever. It should be fun year.


When Fans Boo (Why, Player Perspectives, and My Opinion)

The Washington Redskins beat the St. Louis Rams today at home, 9-7.  But you wouldn’t have known it by the sounds of fans.  The Skins were booed multiple times in their win against the Rams.  There were three times in particular the booing stood out.  Once was before halftime when they were down 7-6.  Another was when Zorn called a conservative running play on third down when the team was when backed up near their own end zone.  The last and most telling time was in the closing seconds of the game as Campbell kneeled to run out the clock.  It’s not often teams get booed when they win, so what the heck is going on?

Why The Fans Booed

  • Expectations were high for today’s game. The Skins were favored by 14 by some and the Rams seemed like a perfect opponent to get into an offensive groove.  The Rams last week lost to the Seattle Seahawks 28-0.  Of course, even with Matt Hasselbeck back, the Seahawks are not an offensive juggernaut.  Surely, the Skins could put the points on the board after playing a suffocating Giants D last week, right?
    • The fans weren’t the only ones who thought this game would be different.  One of the best analysts of the NFC East, Matt Mosley with the NFC East Blog on wrote in his NFC East: Final Word:

Santana Moss is about to go off on the Rams: There, I said it. I think Jim Zorn will take more shots downfield, in part, because Jason Campbell should have more time against the Rams’ front four…But the Redskins will roll in this game. Clinton Portis goes for 115 yards and a touchdown and Moss goes for six catches for 127 yards. Trust me on this stuff.

  • Last year’s loss to St. Louis is still fresh. The Redskins were on a roll last year before the talented but poorly executing Rams surprised the Skins at home.  Along with the Cincinnati Bengals, the Rams game was one of the “should have won games” that  could have put the Skins in the playoffs.
  • Coach Jim Zorn’s play calling has been blamed for the offensive drought.  The fans aren’t the only ones voicing concerns.  Mike Wise of the Washington Post, wrote last week that Zorn’s trick FG play was an act of desperation.  Sonny Jurgenson also supposedly called out Zorn on the 4th and short play where Portis followed Sellers to nowhere and was stopped.
  • You don’t go to FedEx Field to cheer on Shaun Suisham.  Okay, maybe there are a few of you out there.  But you go to see Moss, Portis, Campbell and Cooley score touchdowns.

What the Players Thought of Being Booed

Dan Steinberg of Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog had some great quotes in his piece, “So is it really time to boo the Skins?” Here are some highlights:

Chris Cooley: ”You take a win when you can get it. And there’s a lot of good players, and there’s a lot of good teams in this league. I think Washington prides themselves on being the best fans, and I think that they should try to be the best fans. We won. I understand they wanted us to beat the Rams by 40, but we still won, and we if we continue to win games, that’s great. Booing’s unnecessary.”

Antwaan Randle El: “We appreciate them, and everyone has freedom of choice,” Antwaan Randle El said, “but for us as a team, we play better when you don’t [boo].”

My favorite was really Fred Smoot and Steinberg’s conversation:

“They’re the fans; if they want to boo, let them boo,” Fred Smoot said. “They should have booed.”  I asked why he thought fans should boo; “because they wanted to,” Smoot said. “You can’t control them, you can just control what we did on the field.”

My least favorite: Redskins Linebacker Robert Henson from his twitter account: “The question is who are you to say you know what’s best for the team and you work 9 to 5 at Mcdonalds.”

(Agents, do you know where your clients are?  Here’s a hint to Henson: don’t try and apologize or defend yourself to everyone.  Put up a tweet or two to everyone and call it a night, let it blow over!)

Why I Wouldn’t Have Booed

  • We won.  Yes it was ugly.  Yes, Zorn could have called some better plays.  Sellers dropped a TD pass, as did Devin Thomas on plays called by Zorn.  But we’re tied in the NFC East after the Eagles and Cowboys lost today.
  • This is DC (or the DMV if you prefer), not Philly.  I hate to say it but who else boos their team when they win?  Philadelphia Eagles fans are known as being some of the most critical fans in sports. However, Redskins fans have a tradition of being the most loyal fans in the NFL and all of sports.  The fan base has taken a toll in recent years due to ticket prices, sparse playoff appearances and free agent acquisitions that  have only teased it.  What a drop off from the rocking days of RFK?  Let’s not pull a Philly here and boo a winning team at home.
  • There should be an advantage to being at home. Why not cheer for them and not against them?  Having one of the largest stadiums in the NFL should haunt the visiting team, not the Redskins.
  • This is a dangerous precedent. I kind of understand the booing at half time, but after the game is over when you win?  Is there a certain point differential you need to have to not get booed?  Do you boo through the third quarter if they are still losing?  Often the fans can be instrumental in shifting the momentum between teams.  It can provide the energy or optimism players can use as that “spark” to do things like this.

What Washington Sportsjam Twitter Followers think:

nunyabeeI think the final score & the fact that we didnt destroy the Rams irritated the entire fanbase 2day. I dont see any improvement

nunyabee@dcsportsjam I personally dont & didnt boo but I cant really blame the fans that did. We need 2 c a better product on the field IMO.

WithAView@dcsportsjam Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

jbeardsley@dcsportsjam My take – fan frustration at playcalling, poor execution, owner and playing down to lesser teams. For years. Not player focused

dcborn61@dcsportsjam players, coaches are professionals. Getting public feedback goes with the territory. Fans would much rather cheer

Other follower tweets:

Hensen, who isn’t on the 53, should practice hard and keep his mouth shut. When he produces on the field, he can talk.

Maybe I’M a “blind homer”but booing like a Philly crowd doesn’t make a “12th man”. Not telling them anything they don’t know.

What Do You Think?

Do the Skins deserve to be booed?  Does it matter?  What do you think about Robert Henson’s idea that those that booed are fake fans and haters?


NFC Predictions part 2, Matt's Picks

Mark, that post… one word… DYNAMIC. But I don’t think you’re what you used to be… just kidding.

I would disagree with some of your picks, let’s start with the most important and most competitive division, the NFC EAST.


1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. Washington Redskins

3. New York Giants

4. Dallas Cowboys

The Eagles are coming off a successful season and playoff performance. They went 9 and 6 last year and will have new options on offense with Michael Vick involved and DeSean Jackson in his second year. The Defense definitely will have a difficult time adjusting to the losses of Brian Dawkins at free safety and the late Jim Johnson as their defensive coordinator. But, they still have playmakers and by mid-season I think the defense will be the third best in the NFC East.

The ‘Skins have made a big investment into Haynesworth and with the drafting of Orakpo they have two players that get to the quarterback like me trying to get to a pizza hut buffet (love those). In theory, the addition of Haynesworth will draw double teams and allow other lineman such as Andre Carter and Philip Daniels to make more plays on the quarterback, which in turn will create more turnover opportunities for the secondary and linebackers. We’ll see if that’s what happens (I think it will).

The ‘Skins offense was the primary problem last year, but with Derrick Dockery coming back after his time in Buffalo and  along with the development of Malcolm Kelly and Campbell’s second year in the offense, we’re going to see more big plays. The Redskins and Jim Zorn are more committed to throwing the ball downfield this year which should free up more lanes for Clinton Portis with less men stacked up on the line.

While the Giants lost Plaxico Burress and Derrick Ward they picked up Chris Canty on defense and have a healthy Osi Umenyora this year. Remember in the NFC East, defenses can and often do carry the day. The Giants’ defensive line is deep and will keep the Giants in games, even though Eli Manning doesn’t have Plax to throw to. Also, the Giants have 7 WR’s on their 53 man roster. I can’t imagine them not being able to find someone to contribute. Whether it’s Hakeem Nicks the rookie, or Sinorice Moss, someone will step up and make plays for Manning and Coughlin.

The Cowboys are the ones that should be at the bottom of this list. T.O. was definitely a locker room problem but he also was a problem for opposing defenses. Had he lost a step last year? Probably. Drops? Lots. But losing a big, strong, still fast, physical receiver like Owens without having a replacement hurts Romo more than I think it hurts Eli Manning. Romo and the Cowboys running game is a bit more spotty than the Giants, with Barber providing some occasional big games but overall not really consistent. Wade Phillips is still one of the most incompetent coaches in the NFL with Jerry Jones as the most meddlesome and detrimental outside the city limits of Oakland. That means Cowboys struggle this year and questions about Tony Romo will be a major theme throughout the last half of the season.

NFC North

1. Green Bay Packers

2. Minnesota Vikings

3.Chicago Bears

4. Detroit Lions

Aaron Rodgers is supposedly the next big thing as long as Ryan Grant stays healthy. I’ll buy that. Honestly, it’s a toss up for me between Minny and GB. Favre has the most amazing running back the league has seen in years and will have less pressure to win games by himself, but I still think they’ll have some problems this year with some untimely picks late in games (such as in NY when his shoulder was bothering him. Who knows if it will even hold up the whole year?).

Cutler is overrated and doesn’t have anyone to really throw to. Hester? There are only so many WR screens and quick slants that you can do in a game, right? I think Spurrier showed us that. I kind of just take joy out of putting Cutler and the Bears down here since it will be fun to see him blame everyone else this year.

Detroit is going to be better than last year (I know it’s tough to improve on perfection) but with a rookie qb, it’ll be difficult to take out their division opponents. I hope Jansen has a stellar year there though, their O-line will surely benefit from that pickup at least.

NFC West

1.San Francisco 49ers

2. Arizona Cardinals

3. Seattle Seahawks

4. St. Louis Rams

This is a shocker pick, I know. But San Fran is going to squeak out some wins this year and even though they are a young team, they have guts because of their coach. Singletary will be able to get Vernon Davis this year to play like he’s supposed to and if the qb situation can stay stable with Hill, his development begins. Frank Gore is still a force, and the ability to run the ball is what puts them over Arizona in my book.

As for Arizona, I love them but I don’t know if Kurt Warner will be able to go the whole year healthy. Who knows if Boldin can keep it together, too. If he can’t, you’ll see doubles on the human highlight machine that is Larry Fitzgerald. I’m not saying he can’t beat them, but it’ll be tougher unless Arizona develops a running game with either Hightower or their rookie back Wells (I know the hype on him is huge, but I’m not convinced till I see it in the regular season against the pro’s).

I don’t have much different to add to Mark’s comments on St. Louis and Seattle. Seattle added Edgerrin James this offseason so, we’ll see if that helps their running game but the only thing it shows me is that it’s a bit crowded and they must not have much confidence in Julius Jones to add him.

NFC South

1. New Orleans Saints

2. Carolina Panthers

3. Atlanta Falcons

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Drew Brees is one of the most accurate quarterbacks of the league and overall one its most consistent players also. I’m a huge fan of  his. Players like Colston and Bush coming back from injury will clearly help and I think Shockey will finally have a breakout year again. I think the main difference with the Saints this year though is going to be their hiring of Gregg “double G” Williams for the defensive coordinator position. The Saints have been held back by pathetic D while Brees has been in town, and this year it should START to turn around.

Carolina, if healthy will beat Atlanta in this spot. Now, what’s the chance Carolina stays healthy? Not very good. If Donovan McNabb were a team, he’d be the Panthers probably.  But, Mark and I have to have some different picks right? I know Atlanta has Tony Gonzalez this year, an excellent running option with Turner but Carolina’s D > Atlanta’s D. Tampa is rebuilding, has a new coach and a lot of work to do till it gets back to when Dungy formed it as a super bowl contender (when Gruden took over).


1. Philadelphia Eagles

2. New Orleans Saints

3. San Francisco (or Arizona)

4. Green Bay

5. Washington 

6. Minnesota

What are your thoughts?  Who do you think will be a surprise in the NFC?  Who do you think wins the NFC [B]EAST?